Borders Rewards Snafu: Be Careful What You Wish For

Memo To All Webmasters: When you beg customers to redeem rewards points within a few days or lose them, it's a good idea to know that your site can actually handle such transactions. Signed, Borders.

In a standard Black Friday sale promotional news release, Borders on November 24 implored customers to join its Borders Rewards Plus program by November 30 and receive a $10 credit, which had to be used by Jan. 11, 2011. The good news is that customers listened and did what they were told. The bad news is that customers listened and did what they were told.

Related stories: The Laundry List Of Black Friday Site Problems and the Black Friday Inventory Blowup.

But within hours of the statement being issued, a mass E-mail was sent under the signature of CEO Mike Edwards. He cited "a huge response" to the promotion that "impacted" the "the customer experience."

Impacted in what way? Remember that credit people were given and told to use right away? Well, many of those transactions didn't work.

"If you were not able to redeem your $10 in Borders Bonus Bucks online, we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you," Edwards wrote. "Please look for additional exclusive rewards and incentives throughout the Holiday Season."

That apology doesn't sound awfully persuasive, given that it offers no details about what went wrong and, more importantly, no promise that it's been fixed. (Despite Borders promising a statement explaining what happened, no statement materialized by deadline.)

Indeed, that last line feels awfully abrupt. "We asked you to do this, you did it and it didn't work. Oh well. Please look for us to do this to you again a few more times this holiday season, in the true Lucy/Charlie Brown football tradition."

How about adding an extra $5 (or more) for customers' inconvenience, along with assurances that it won't happen again? To be fair, this was a nice holiday gift—for Amazon and